Empire prep girls tennis enters league play

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Empire prep girls’ tennis figures to be highly competitive this season with many top players back for another season.

Both the North Bay League and Sonoma County League open play Thursday.

Leading the way is Fu Long from Maria Carrillo, the Empire Player of the Year the past two seasons. Long is chasing an elusive North Coast Section tournament win.

Other All-Empire players returning in the North Bay League include:

–Long’s teammates Kira Deguchi and Hanna Monette, making the Pumas the favorite for the NBL title.

The Santa Rosa duo of Haley Lyons and Laurel Ockenden, who won an NCS doubles match last season.

Preston Bernd of Cardinal Newman, which represented the NBL in the NCS team tournament play a year ago.

Sonoma County League aces include Maddie Thomas, who like Long has competed in the NCS singles tournament the past two seasons. She is an All-Empire selection.

Other All-Empire players returning in the SCL include:

Thomas’ teammate Nicoline Pedersen, making Petaluma the favorite to repeat as SCL champions. Already this season the Trojans edged Maria Carrillo in a nonleague match.

Earlier it was Maria Carrillo handling longtime power Analy. Back for Analy is Jade Wight.

Both the NBL and SCL play league matches on Thursday’s and Tuesday’s.

Opening action today in the NBL has: Casa Grande at Rancho Cotate; Windsor at Ukiah; Cardinal Newman at Santa Rosa; and Maria Carrillo at Montgomery.

In the SCL, the season-opening matches are: El Molino at Analy; Elsie Allen at Piner; and Petaluma at Healdsburg. Sonoma Valley has the bye.